Team USA Member Preps Her Border Collie for IFCS World Agility Championship

A woman kneeling on the ground with a dog

Amber McCune of Bedford, New Hampshire, and her super-athletic 6-year-old red-and-white male Border Collie, “Typo” (NAC CH MACH6 Elachies Ewe Can’t Mistake My Darkside MXG2 PAD MJS2 PJD DE DMAS HDM), are going for gold when they compete at the International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) World Agility Championship (WAC) in May at Bourgbarré, France, as part of Team USA. 

“I am going into it with the mindset to trust the many years of training I have put into Typo,” she says. “Typo is definitely at his prime. He is like a well-oiled machine.” 

Amber is one of 20 members of Team USA who are handling 22 dogs for the United States Dog Agility Association Inc.SM (USDAA®). The team includes seven medalists from 2023, eight returning WAC competitors and five first-time competitors. More than 200 dogs representing 12 countries will compete at the event, which will be held May 1 to 5 at the Vayrie Equestrian Center in northwest France near Rennes.  

The U.S. team is comprised of breeds that jump heights from 250 mm to 600 mm. They range in size from Papillon, Miniature Poodle, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Border Pap to Shetland Sheepdog, English Cocker Spaniel, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd and Belgian Tervuren.  

“This team is a really skilled group,” says Rachel Evers, director of competitor services for USDAA and manager of Team USA for the third consecutive year. 

“Each year there is a different team dynamic,” Rachel says. “We ask for the members’ input on team strategy and decision-making as we form the Small and Large Dog competition teams and determine the starters. They know how they run, what they like to do and what they are good at. This allows us to put together some really strong combinations.” 

Rachel and Ken Tatsch, founder and president of USDAA, chose the members of Team USA from over 70 video applicants. Many applicants included their dogs’ performances at events like the Cynosport® Dog Agility World Games Presented by Purina Pro Plan, USDAA’s annual championship event, which is modeled similarly to the WAC format. 

In 2023, Team USA won the gold medal in the Small Dog Team competition and 16 individual medals at the IFCS World Agility Championship in the U.K. In 2022, Team USA won four individual medals at the event held in the Netherlands.  

This year marks the second time Amber will have competed at the IFCS WAC. In 2019, she was a member of Team USA with Typo’s half-brother, “Kaboom” (NAC2 GCH MACH5 PACH2 Shoreland’s Explosion On the Darkside CD), at the championship in the Netherlands. Kaboom retired in 2023 after the Cynosport World Games in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he won the 16-inch Veterans All-Around. 

At Cynosport in 2023, Typo was the 24-inch Masters Challenge BiathlonSM Champion. Amber, who has been competing with Typo since he was 2 years old, is excited about his future. 

“This is Typo’s time to shine,” she says. “It’s exciting to experience the IFCS World Agility Championship with him. He’s my partner, and agility is our favorite thing to do in the whole world. This is an opportunity to showcase the training and relationship I have with my dog.” 

Amber adheres to a well-rounded training regimen to keep Typo fit. She is co-owner and manager of American K9 Country, a multisport training facility in Amherst, New Hampshire, where she teaches agility and trains Typo and her other dogs. 

“Typo does agility two to three days a week but works out at least five days a week,” Amber says. “We live in New Hampshire and the outdoors is icy much of the winter, so we do a lot of indoor core workouts and swimming and underwater treadmill.  

“You have to cross-train canine athletes just like human athletes to keep them sound and healthy. There is so much more to agility than jumping. A lot has to do with their fitness and physical ability as well as the nutrition they receive.” 

Amber feeds Typo Purina Pro Plan All Life Stages SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula. “Pro Plan has 30 percent protein, which helps his muscles recover after a workout,” she says. “It also has glucosamine and EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, that support his joints and mobility. He is always in tip-top shape.” 

In preparation for the IFCS WAC, Amber is training on larger courses with dirt surfaces that are similar to the European style. 

“Getting Typo and myself on dirt surfaces is really key right now because our timing is different on artificial surfaces versus dirt where he can dig in and turn,” she says. “I have to sharpen my game so I am ready for his quicker turns.” 

She also is fine-tuning Typo’s game skills.  

“Gamblers and Snooker are two games we will play at IFCS,” Amber says. “I really want to make sure Typo understands them. Gamblers involves sending the dog a long distance over a line that the handler can’t cross. In Snooker, you need to snooker your way through different obstacles. It’s a lot like the billiards game, but I get to do it with a dog.” 

“Every dog will run two to three times a day in France, except for the first day when they run one time,” Rachel says. “In addition to Standard courses, there will be Jumpers, Team Relay and the games of Gamblers and Snooker. 

“In both games, the judge presents a course setup that is a strategic challenge. The handler has 8 minutes to walk the course and come up with the best path to earn the most points in the time allowed. Team USA is highly skilled at these games because they are part of USDAA events and the handlers are familiar with them.” 

As Amber gets ready for IFCS WAC and her first trip to France, excitement sneaks into her preparations. “I am really excited to go,” she says. “Most of the time in agility, your teammate is your dog, so it’s pretty cool to go to a competition with a whole team of talented handlers and dogs. The camaraderie is a blast. I am so honored to be on the team.” 

Congratulations, Amber and Typo! Good luck, Team USA!